dating, friendships, healing, relationships, self awareness

Fight or flight

A few months ago, the following conversation took place between me and a close friend:

Friend: Hey Adri, how’s it going with [insert guy’s name here]?

Me: Who? Girl, please. I had to cancel that.

Friend (to another friend who had joined the conversation): Man, Adri cuts these guys off quick. You don’t give anyone a chance.

Me *shrugging*: Hey. I don’t waste time.

Fight or flight: a term used to describe the automatic, inborn, physiological mechanism in the body that enables humans to mobilize a lot of energy rapidly in order to cope with threats to survival by either fighting or fleeing (flight).

Confession: I always am in survival mode when it comes to relations, platonic or otherwise. And I rarely apologize for it. I take the quote “when people show you who they are, believe them” to heart. The reality is that like many, I’ve experienced hurt and have decided to take an active role in preventing it from happening again. Am I always successful? No. But more often than not, I’ve successfully avoided the sinking feeling you get in your gut when you realize that you’ve been deceived, or betrayed, or abused. I usually win.

The fight or flight response is thought to have been hard-wired into our psyche because of very real physical prehistoric threats like a raging saber-toothed tiger determined to rip our ancestors’ heads off. While most of us don’t have those types of massive feline-based threats these days, we do encounter the very real possibility of being mugged, or hit by a car, or damaged by an emotional interaction. And our bodies, wired by years of trauma, reacts. I don’t know much about having to deal with someone verbally abusing me. Or enduring an intense and uncomfortable conversation.

Because I flee. I always have. For reasons that are far too personal for a public blog (and friends), I learned at a very early age that leaving is the answer. While I may not exhibit unnatural strength like the mother who lifted a car to save her child during a fight or flight moment, I am skilled at removing myself from a situation faster than you can say “adrenaline”.

Emotions running high? Leave.

Angry? Leave.

Frustrated? Leave.

And it’s my go-to response because when it comes to relationships, platonic or otherwise, I have one foot out the door, anyway. I can hear you through the computer or your smartphone now, telling me that it’s not ok to do what I do. Or that I have to trust the process. Or my personal favorite, “Adri, you have to give people a chance”. I’ve heard it all. And I see the merit in all of those statements. I know that it is going to be incredibly difficult for me to connect with anyone on a truly deeper level if I’m always ready to leave when I’m faced with the possibility of being hurt. I leave before I get left. I hurt before I’m hurt.

I’ve been comfortable with this strategy because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” even if I break, instead.

It’s how I’m wired.

To be continued,

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